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Title: Bounds of Reason
Author: Tarie
Pairing: Orry Main/George Hazard
Fandom: North and South
Rating: PG-13
Summary: George sets out to rid Orry of his sentimental notions once and for all.
Disclaimer: North and South characters and universe belong to John Jakes and the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
A/N: Takes place during 1843 at West Point. AU. Happens a few days after George and a few other cadets take Orry to Alice Peet's for his first experience with a woman. Written for Callie for her birthday!

"My boy, what's deviling you?"

George's words startled him. Orry started, and then rolled over, iron bed squeaking and groaning in protest, to face his roommate. He squinted in the dim light, George's face almost indistinguishable against the gray pillow and undyed wool coverlet he had pulled up to his chin "What do you mean?"

From across the room, George let out a sigh. Orry couldn't be certain that he was feigning discontentment. "Have you or have you not been swimming in overly sentimental notions as of late?"

Orry had a suspicion he knew in which direction this conversation was headed. A flush settled in his cheeks. "I say, that isn't a matter that I care to discuss with–"

"Confound it, I thought I told you about your damnable genteelness and Southern rhetoric. Be candid and answer," George demanded, and Orry was surprised by the uncharacteristic edge in his voice. George was not play-acting; Orry would have to answer him or prepare to be deviled to death.

After a long moment of hesitation, Orry wet his lips and said softly, "I have."

"Perhaps you don't recall the reason why we paid a visit to 'Madame Pompadour-Peet'?"

"I do."

"And instead of assisting you with coming to your senses and abandoning all sentimental and frivolous notions regarding females, your experience has only strengthened your convictions about these matters?"

He nearly whispered his answer. "Yes."

Quick as a whip, George sat up and shifted in his bed. Orry could feel the weight of his friend's stare settling atop him. "Something has to be done."

"George, please," Orry implored. George said nothing. Rather, he continued to stare, and he was making Orry feel more uncomfortable than Bent ever had.

"You're entirely too serious. The Very Accommodating Alice advised you allow yourself a little enjoyment from time to time."

Orry gasped. Had Alice Peet confided to George about their encounter? He could not fathom when such a confidence would have occurred; after the mystery had been revealed to him, Orry had taken whiskey with George while Pickett had a time with her, and then all the cadets stumbled back up the path toward their barracks. "I reckon I could use sleep now, Ge–"

"Don't." There was a rustle fallowed by a few squeaks and footsteps, and then Orry felt the mattress dip beneath him. George was suddenly and unexpectedly so close now that Orry could feel warmth radiating from him.


"Have you ever been with a man?"

Had he heard George correctly? Orry shook his head as though trying to rid it of cobwebs before tilting his head at an almost violent angle to regard his friend. "I am afraid I haven't any–"

"As I suspected," George murmured, and Orry felt heat rise in his cheeks again.

"A man cannot lie with another man," he protested, unable to look at his roommate suddenly.

"Man can do whatever he pleases within the bounds of reason. We tried to do something involving a rather lovely and accommodating woman, which hadn't the effect we had hoped. It stands to reason that an encounter with a man is the next logical step in banishing a portion of that trite sentimentality."

While he could not deny he hadn't a notion as to how a man could lie with another man, Orry shivered as a sudden, intense jolt of something he could only describe as excitement coursed straight through him. "Have you–?"

George held up a hand. "On my honor, I hereby promise you, Cadet Orry Main sir, that you will find the entire affair exceedingly more educational than the last."

One thing Orry learned about George Hazard over the past two years was this: George was a man of his word.

He touched Orry in a way not unlike Alice Peet, but his hands were so much more expert and precise. The springs beneath them moaned in time with the deliberate, fast-slow-fast motion George had set. As he saw stars exploding beneath his lidded eyes and he heard stilted moans and gasps and all manner of uncouth things spill forth past his lips, Orry found he cared not a whit if the likes of Elkanah Bent would happen upon the room and give the both of them skins for fraternizing and behavior unbecoming a cadet.

He would have been willing to write an excuse and endure Captain Thomas's priggishness regarding the grammar and phrasing if it meant the report would be rendered nil and the skins removed from his record.

After all, he had only been partaking in an exceedingly educational affair.
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